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Teacher accountability

I was a teacher five years ago when Pittsburgh Public Schools first launched RISE—its new teacher-evaluation system—and it caused quite a stir. The conflicting reports, mixed with the inevitable rumors about its purpose, had anxiety levels running high.

What makes for a great teacher? For generations, educators operated on the belief that great teaching was mostly an art, which the talented refine in the privacy of the classroom over many years of work. Think Sidney Poitier’s Mark Thackeray in To Sir with Love or Richard Dreyfuss as Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland’s Opus. The trouble with this romanticized idea is that it all depends on the individual.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Monica DeSantiago wondered how in the world she would get the students to respect her.

A new study from the Center for American Progress concludes that teachers' expectations for their students are strongly correlated with students' graduation rates. Unfortunately, the study also says that teachers don't necessarily have high expectations for all of their students, especially poorer students and those of color.